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The deafening silence of Nigerian Legislators on MTN fine

By Femi Isaac

There comes a time when silence is not golden, when policy makers and decision making institutions deliberately and needlessly extend prompt decision on an issue of national importance or even refuse to proffer an amicable way forward in line with national interest.


From the delay in assenting the 2016 budget, to the mooting of the Social Media Bill and even the muting of the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill, there have been several efforts by the Nigerian legislators to remain silent instead of  promptly and actively standing up to address them.

Perhaps one of such glaring circumstances, is the MTN and NCC regulatory fine issue it is almost two months now since the House of representatives summoned the leadership of leading telecommunication provider MTN Nigeria, to explain its role and the circumstances surrounding its initial payment of N50b fine. But rather than instantly resolving the issue, it is unfortunate there just seem to be no head way. As it is, we are all stuck!

It is interesting to note that the CBN and the five banks recently fined for some regulatory irregularities have quickly dispatched the matter even without so much ado. That the matter only became a ‘public knowledge’ from the reports is a demonstration of expediting actions in matter of critical national interest.

While the legislators are backed by the law to investigate, what they have failed to do is to quickly and promptly conclude on the matter through its house committee to support on-going efforts towards an amicable solution.

We must commend the efforts of the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Communication both of who have shown desire to ensure a quick resolution but unfortunately as the Minister of Communication said in one of his chat, the legislators have to conclude their investigations before negotiations can continue.

Many experts in law, economy, business and finance have expressed worries on the unnecessary delay of the legislators to come up with a decision especially as the president had earlier ordered a renegotiation of the 780 billion Naira fine imposed on the company. The experts have expressed in their several analysis that the best way to stimulate growth in the economy is to ensure that investments keep flowing into sectors that need them which in-turn  progressively lead to improved revenue for the government.

It has been agreed that Nigeria’s best example of success in attracting and retaining foreign investment has happened in the telecoms sector and that experience in the past 15 years ought to encourage Nigeria to solicit more in sector even outside telecoms. The knowledge of the need for an economically stable Nigeria is behind the loud criticism of the silence of Nigerian legislators on this matter like many others, with many experts calling on the legislators to take prompt action now on the MTN and NCC matter. We wish Nigeria a successful digital switch over in 2017.

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